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The myth of Zeus' test - Iseult Gillespie

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It was dark when two mysterious, shrouded figures appeared in a hillside village. The strangers knocked on every door in town, asking for food and shelter. But, again and again, they were turned away. Soon, there was just one door left: that of a small, thatched shack. Would the owners help the visitors — or spurn them? Iseult Gillespie shares the myth of Baucis and Philemon.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Vitalii Nebelskyi, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Adrian Dannatt
  • Animator Teymuraz Bzikadze
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Compositor Olya Barabakh
  • Art Director Vitalii Nebelskyi
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Script Producer Cella Wright
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The story of Baucis and Philemon is a rare love story in Greek mythology, both for its relatively happy ending and for spotlighting an older couple. The story appears in Ovid’s metamorphosis, a collection concerned with the transformation of mortals and Gods – in this case, Baucis and Philemon are transformed into trees. You can read Ovid’s full version here and a condensed version here. For further commentary on the myth as well as some artistic representations of the couple through time, see Madeline Miller’s commentary here. 

The story has inspired artists from Rembrandt to Rubins, and many more examples can be seen here. In addition to visual art, Baucis and Philemon appear in later literary works including the seventeenth century English poet John Dryden’s “The Story of Baucis and Philemon”, and Enlightenment writer and satirist Jonathan Swift’s “Baucis and Philemon.”

Alongside love, one of the key themes in this myth is xenia. This is the Ancient Greek concept of generosity and hospitality, which Baucis and Philemon are rewarded for. As this piece explains, xenia is a recurring theme across Greek mythology. 

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Iseult Gillespie
  • Director Vitalii Nebelskyi, and action creative agency
  • Narrator Adrian Dannatt
  • Animator Teymuraz Bzikadze
  • Music Stephen LaRosa
  • Compositor Olya Barabakh
  • Art Director Vitalii Nebelskyi
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Anna Bechtol
  • Associate Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Script Producer Cella Wright